Alumna MinKyung Kang is a blossoming entrepreneur
MinKyung Kang graduated in the Class of 2017 with a degree in biological sciences and a minor in business administration. Today she is an entrepreneur, the founder and CEO of Pida Beauty in Qatar.
You are from South Korea, with no ties to Qatar. How did you learn about CMU-Q?
It started when I was a university student in Korea. I did a solo trip to Egypt and I was inadvertently caught up in a revolution. Seeing the kids fighting against the government at the ages of 15 and 16, when I returned to Korea, I was not able to “un-see” and ignore the experience. It began my fascination with Arab culture.
Later I read an article about Education City and what HH Sheikha Moza was doing for education. I began to research Qatar, and I realized more and more there were a lot of opportunities for education here.
You decided to leave Korea?
Changing universities was a big deal at that age. I was a rising junior, and preparing for a job in the corporate world. Few single young Koreans would dare to move by themselves, but I wanted to gain proficiency in English and learn a new culture. I knew I would either fail miserably or be super successful.
How was your experience at CMU-Q?
My first semester was so hard. Being a transfer student, I was in upper level classes and I struggled understanding my professors. The previous associate dean of CMU-Q, Mike Stehlik, called me to express his concerns. He told me that as long as I wanted to be successful, he would help me. And that was the strongest support I had in my whole life.
Things changed in my second semester. I took some lower level classes and performed well. Then I spent the summer at the CMU Pittsburgh main campus and my English improved a lot. When I returned to CMU-Q in the fall I joined a lot of activities and founded the Dreamers’ Club because I was motivated to help other students.
What has happened since you graduated in 2017?
The blockade began a month after graduation, and because of that I lost a job opportunity in Qatar. But one of my social media followers read my post. Her husband was a Qatari diplomat based in Seoul and he contacted me saying there was a vacancy in the Qatar Embassy in South Korea. So I joined as a consular officer.
You left because of the blockade?
Yes, but the blockade also created an opportunity to develop my business. My friends in Qatar were noticing a lack of product diversity. So I focused on business development, finding an investor, and coming up with the name and concept. I moved back and in June 2019, I got an office and I’m building a team.
What is your business all about?
It’s called Pida Beauty. Pida means “to blossom” in Korean, and we bring Korean beauty and skin care products to Qatar. We don’t have a physical shop, we are utilizing e-commerce.
How has your CMU-Q education helped your career in entrepreneurship?
I would say it has shaped my work ethic. This is so important. It’s broad, of course, but work ethic includes time management, professionalism, respect. These were the most important things.
Do you still feel connected to the CMU-Q network?
Yes! The network helps each other, it did not end at the moment we graduated. I’m always in touch with my former classmates. We are family and we help each other. I really consider myself as a representative of CMU-Q. This is where I grew so much.